The 2010/2011 season of the BNT V8s Championship is almost here and race teams have spent the winter months reviewing their performances from last season’s races and re-engineering or obtaining new cars in the hope of gaining that extra edge.
With the opening round at Pukekohe Park Raceway only a few weeks away, initial testing has commenced with 14 cars attending pre-season testing at Pukekohe last Friday.
Unfortunately, the reigning champion Craig Baird was unable to attend owing to prior commitments in Australia although his rebuilt Falcon was present to undergo some slow “shake-down” laps by team owner Garry Pedersen. Championship runner-up John McIntyre was present in his new liveried Blackwood-Paykels Falcon as was Kayne Scott with the new look Fujitsu Heat Pumps Falcon.
Other drivers running were Tim Edgell, Angus Fogg, Haydn MacKenzie, Simon Richards, Martin Short and William Bamber – all in Falcons together with Andy Booth, John Penny, Andrew Anderson, Paul Manuell and Nick Ross driving Commodores. Others present but not driving included Australian V8 Supercar driver Jason Bargwanna, Eddie Bell and Christina Orr.
Competitive lap times were not the purpose of the test as most discussion centred around one of the biggest technical advances the category has seen namely newer, bigger and better brakes technology. The new package is again provided by American based company Performance Friction Brakes who have provided a standard package especially for the BNT V8s category.
The biggest improvement is the increase in rotor sizes from 328mm to 355mm (front) and 310mm to 323mm (rear) using single piece monoblock four piston calipers on all four wheels. The same brake pad compound will be used front and rear with pad thicknesses increased to 29mm (front) and 19mm (rear).
The objective of the new technology is to allow cars to squat more evenly under heavy braking and reduce nose diving at the front preventing the rear to break loose. The new pads should also see cars completing a full race weekend on a single set thus reducing costs. Drivers testing on Friday have already provided positive feedback on having a firmer brake pedal and more confidence under braking.
The end result for the driver is later and more stable braking while the advantage for spectators will undoubtedly be more dramatic overtaking under braking and entering corners. However, drivers are now faced with the task of re-evaluating their braking points for each of the seven circuits being used in the series.
The controlled compound Dunlop racing tyres remain the same as last season which will add another factor into sorting the braking characteristics. The only other technical changes involve the Commodores changing back to adjustable bottom front suspension arms and an additional two inch front air duct necessary to cope with the larger brakes. The Falcons remain the same but with the front brake air duct increasing to five inches diameter
Further testing can continue being carried out by BNT V8 Championship contenders in both the North and South islands until the Friday before the opening round.
The only change in the standard race weekend format will be qualifying where drivers will undertake a single 20 minute qualifying session followed by the highly popular top-ten shoot out. The seven round championship commences at Pukekohe on November 6th-7th and concludes at the ITM 400 V8 Supercar weekend at Hamilton on April 15th-17th.